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American Experience; The Abolitionists; Interview with John Stauffer, part 2 of 5

Part of The Abolitionists Interviews.


John Stauffer is Chair of the History of American Civilization and Professor of English and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Among his works include: GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (2008), The Writings of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist (2006), The Problem of Evil: Slavery, Freedom, and the Ambiguities of American Reform (with Steven Mintz, 2006); Meteor of War: The John Brown Story (with Zoe Trodd); and The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002).

License Clip
American Experience
The Abolitionists
Program Number

2501, 2502, 2503


Interview with John Stauffer, part 2 of 5

Series Description

As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award.

Program Description

On January 1, 1863, when abolitionist leaders Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison received word that the Emancipation Proclamation had declared three million enslaved African Americans "forever free," it was the culminating moment of the most important civil rights crusade in American history, and the climax of a long and difficult friendship between two remarkable men. In this series, the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, American Experience tells the story of how Douglass, Garrison and their abolitionist allies Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimke turned a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that literally changed the nation. The "holy warriors" of emancipation captured the private details of their tumultuous political and personal journeys toward freedom in letters, diaries, newspaper articles, and memoirs. They revealed themselves to be willful, arrogant, righteous, and unbending, yet empathic, faithful, loyal, candid, and just. They fought the slave-holding South with a moral passion and bickered among themselves with petty familiarity. Along the way, they fell in love, got married, had families, lost loved ones, formed cliques, quarreled and made up.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Rapley, Rob (Producer)
Stauffer, John (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Rights Summary

Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

Chicago: “American Experience; The Abolitionists; Interview with John Stauffer, part 2 of 5,” 2013, GBH Archives, accessed April 23, 2024,
MLA: “American Experience; The Abolitionists; Interview with John Stauffer, part 2 of 5.” 2013. GBH Archives. Web. April 23, 2024. <>.
APA: American Experience; The Abolitionists; Interview with John Stauffer, part 2 of 5. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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